The social and economic development program for Izhma region, Komi Republic, including public hearings, local and regional development workshops and a summer business school for new entrepreneurs (2010-11), was successful very much thanks to the commitment and strong professional leadership of Nicolaj Rochev, leader of Izvatas, the Izhma-komis main interest organization, and the networks local project coordinator, Valeria Golubeva, former head of the international office of Ukhta State Technical University (USTU). This fact was widely acknowledged in the conclusion of a two days final reporting seminar held in Syktyvkar November 24-27, by the Ministry of National Policies of the Komi Republic, the Academy of Public Administration, Izvatas and the UArctic Thematic Network on Local and Regional Development. Funding from the Norwegian Barents Secretariat contributed to the success of the development program for Izhma region.

"The most successful project of Russian-Norwegian cooperation!"

The best man
Yakutian ceremonyBut it was not this event Steinar Pedersen, former rector of Sami University College, was referring to when he some time ago talked so warmly about the ‘most successful project of Russian-Norwegian cooperation’. The words were pronounced during the dinner following the wedding of Valeria Golubeva and Tor Gjertsen, leader of the Thematic Network, in the beautiful Sami church of Polmak, in the municipality of Tana. The first meeting between Steinar and Valeria was at the Gargia Conference 2010: Between Tradition and Modernity. Social and Economic Development in Indigenous Regions of the North, where he was the main speaker together with Stefan Mikaelson, President of the Swedish Sami Parliament Assembly. The partnership that was formed between Sami and Finnmark University College, to plan and implement Gargia 2010, was just one of many joint projects and programs in education, research and development work, based on a long time friendship and working relationship with Steinar Pedersen. One of the main issues and questions discussed at the Gargia conference last year was, if there is need for a separate international development network, and educational programs, for indigenous peoples of the Circumpolar North. The answer from the audience was no, indigenous people could best work through the UArctic network, and influence and take advantage of the different course and study programs developed by the network for local and regional development in the North. It is all about networking, or connecting people across borders. When Steinar Pedersen in the evening of August 5, as the best man, talked about the formation of an affectionate, strong and long lasting partnership between Valeria Golubeva and Tor Gjertsen, I am sure he also thought about how this could benefit indigenous peoples, especially in northern regions of Russia.

Business and pleasure
The new personal and professional partnership that was established in Tana has, as we have seen, already carried fruits. At the reporting seminar held in Syktyvkar, with participation from 3 ministries (finance, environment and national policies), 3 regional administrations (Izhma, Ust Tsylma and Kortkerosk) 4 universities (Syktyvkar State U, Pedagogical Institute, Forestry Institute, and Ukhta State Technical), both public and private business incubators, voluntary organizations and business representatives, the conclusion was not only that the development program for Izhma region had been successful, but that the project for local and regional development partnerships and workshops therefore should be